Israel white phosphorus use is being funded by a UK mine

  • Post last modified:May 17, 2024
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Israel Chemicals LTD (ICL) own Boulby mine in Loftus, North Yorkshire. The very same company is supplying Israel with white phosphorus – which it is using to commit war crimes. 

Propping up a genocide

Israel Corporation control ICL who operate in multiple aspects of the Israeli apartheid regime. They are one of the largest Israeli conglomerates.

In the UK, ICL is selling a ‘sustainable fertiliser’ polyhalite – for which there is actually no evidence it has any unique properties. 

However, ICL’s UK operations is laying cover for its genocidal and colonial complicity in Palestine. By greenwashing its broader environmentally ruinous operations, it is propping up the Israeli apartheid state. ICL also has many illegal quarries on occupied Palestinian land, namely in the West Bank. The company is complicit in the apartheid Israeli regime. 

Critically, ICL is producing white phosphorus at its plant in St Louis, US, which they sell to the US army. They then pass it onto the Israeli army. 

Israel white phosphorous: illegal?

White phosphorus is a chemical substance which ignites instantly upon contact with oxygen. It’s incredibly hard to extinguish and sticks to surfaces like clothes and skin. White phosphorus is extremely harmful to people, no matter the route of exposure. It causes deep and severe burns, breathing problems, along with burning the eyes and respiratory tract. 

According to the World Health Organisation:

The use of white phosphorus may violate Protocol III (on the use of incendiary weapons) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCCW) in one specific instance: if it is used, on purpose, as an incendiary weapon directly against humans in a civilian setting.

There is plenty of evidence of Israel’s unlawful use of white phosphorus, and not just in Palestine. Amnesty International reported that the Israeli army fired artillery shells containing white phosphorus along Lebanon’s southern border in October 2023. Amnesty International want it investigating as a war crime because it was:

an indiscriminate attack that injured at least nine civilians.

Human Rights Watch also verified Israels’ use of white phosphorus on two locations along the Israel-Lebanon border and over Gaza City’s port.

According to various sources, ICL has been the sole provider of white phosphorus to the US Army. The US Army uses it to produce projectiles filled with the dangerous substance. In the US, ICL has a chemical manufacturing plant in St. Louis. The US government contracted ICL into producing white phosphorus for the US Army, for “a 5-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, fixed-price contract” at $3,342,150. 

Amnesty has suggested that the US army may then be providing the projectiles to the Israeli Army – meaning it is complicit in their war crimes as they are used in highly populated areas such as Gaza.

It’s also worth noting, that there were reports of white phosphorus being shipped to Israel from a shipping service in Detroit. Specifically, this is owned by ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. Notably, ZIM’s parent company is also the Israel Corporation.

Roots in settler-colonialism

The state of Israel established ICL in 1968 as a government-owned company. In 1975, it took over other government owned entities including Dead Sea Works.

Dead Sea Works was originally ‘Palestine Potash’ and was founded by Moise Novomeysky, a Russian mining engineer and head of the Siberian Zionist Center. As early as the mid 1700’s the Palestinians had recognised the Dead Sea’s potential and engaged in salt farming on its shores.

However, Israel systematically excluded Palestinians from economic development in the region. Ultimately, this provided the Zionists the political capital they needed to further their settler-colonial aspirations.

Once Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it quickly took large areas of land to secure the area around the Dead Sea. Israeli authorities manipulated land codes and stole Palestinian land, including the entire dead sea coastline. The Israeli government privatised ICL in 1992 

Currently, ICL has 10 illegal quarries in the occupied West Bank, according to a report by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. Notably, ICL is also operating in the occupied Syrian Golan. 

The UK is complicit

The Canary contacted ICL for comment, but they did not come back to us by the time of publication.

By allowing ICL to operate a mine in Yorkshire and sell its products in the UK, the country is helping fund the production of white phosphorus, so that Israel can kill and maim Palestinians.

This is only a part of the much bigger picture as ICL operates in 13 different countries across the globe. Each site allows it to build its revenue and ultimately, financially underpin its apartheid and genocide-abetting activities in Gaza and the West Bank. 

ICL is also currently getting away with it’s questionable marketing of its polyhalite fertiliser – a prime example of greenwashing. 

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